A brigade in Victoria’s south-east is focused on investing in their youth through a strong Junior Fire Brigade Program.
Drouin West Fire Brigade’s Juniors Program has been around for more than 20 years to encourage local young people to get involved in the brigade.
Now, the Program has evolved into something much larger, with 10 junior leaders providing training and support to the 13 junior members.
Drouin West Fire Brigade’s response area covers a range of surrounding towns, including Drouin West and Jindivick. They regularly support Drouin Fire Brigade at incidents and attend a wide variety of callouts.
Jodie Wills is the Junior Coordinator at Drouin West, having been a brigade member for about two years and in a leadership position for the Juniors Program for one of those years.
“I got into the brigade because my husband was involved in CFA,” she said.
“My children were in the Junior brigade, and I thought maybe if I was to come along, I might be able to give some ideas and to help, and it was interesting to be able to get into it.
“There are so many activities that the Juniors tend to do, and I thought ‘why not give it a try and see how I go?’.”
Jodie said it’s incredibly important to teach our junior members foundational skills from a young age.
“It’s so important to invest in our juniors, because if we can actually get them in from a young age, they have more experience for when they become a senior firefighter.”
She said her favourite part of being a Junior Coordinator is fostering the skills of the young members.
“Getting to know the kids is my favourite part, but also teaching them how to get new firefighting skills, and then seeing how they progress throughout the year,” Jodie said.
“Being a junior leader is very fulfilling and rewarding role.”
Jodie’s son, Riley, is a junior member at the brigade. He said he loves learning new things during their training sessions.
“The best part of being a junior member is learning how to put out a fire and learning new skills every week,” Riley said.
“I also love all of the friends that I’ve made during my time as a junior member. They’re a great bunch of kids and I feel lucky to have them as my friends; I love hanging out with them.”
Riley said he looks forward to becoming a senior firefighter when he’s older and has already taken on some responsibility within the brigade.
“I definitely plan on becoming a senior firefighter. I’m the junior lieutenant at Drouin West, we had our elections recently and I was voted in as junior lieutenant, and I’m really excited to take on that role.”
“I have to be a role model and look out for others and I’m really looking forward to it.”
CFA’s Junior Volunteer Development Program provides safe, enjoyable and challenging activities for young people aged 11 to 15 years of age.
The program runs in over 160 brigades across Victoria and aims to introduce young people to CFA by providing them with the opportunity to become good fire safe citizens.
You can find out more about CFA’s Junior Volunteer Development Program here.
This story is part of a new profile series which highlights our brigades and the great work they do in their communities.
Public link: Brigades of CFA
CFA member link: Brigades of CFA
Each week we will share a story from a different brigade, with all stories to be featured on the CFA website so all communities can learn more about our brigades.
||Mitch Gastin and Tiahn Wright